Author Archive: Liv Siddall

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Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

ls@itsnicethat.com@LivSiddall

1541 articles
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    Big thanks to Nathan and Jacob of Haw-Lin for their recent updates that have led to us finding the work of photographer Joyce Kim. Joyce’s photographs lead us tentatively by the hand behind the scenes of some remarkable music videos where our eyeballs are given VIP treatment and treated to perfect shots that are in such high-res that you can almost smell them. The grainy monochromatic photos taken during the making-of Earl Sweatshirt and Childish Gambino’s music videos are sublime, but we’d have to agree with Haw-Lin and say that the photos of Josh Homme with loads of Japanese businessmen for the hedonistic Smooth Sailing video are the very best. That shot of all the guys in suits falling asleep on each other in front of that security grate is beyond perfect.

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    Just as you were thinking you hadn’t seen some truly joyous graphic design infused with sunshine for such a long time BAM! Here’s a bunch of magazines that are designed with one thing in mind: happiness. Javas Lehn Studio are based in New York and spend their days commissioning fantastic illustrators and not worrying about overusing exclamation marks for big brands that want a slice of the nice. Although a lot of this studio’s work is digital or signage-based, for me where they really come into their own is in the world of print. Saturdays Magazine looks delicious, and you could argue that Ace of Faith – the book they created for artist Brian Paumier – is even more lust-worthy than the art itself. I urge you to go and spend some time on their site, if it doesn’t make you want to start up your own design practice then at the very least you’re going to want to go and leave small offerings on the doorstep of Javas Lehn HQ.

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    Something very special happens when a lot of time and effort goes into something silly. This new series from Mike Mellia takes the style he’s perfected during his modern artists in the style of old masters project and sees him create one selfie a day that he uploads to his Instagram account. Gently taking the piss out of selfie culture, Mike poses for ludicrous self portraits depending on his outfit of choice with captions such as “That one time I founded the Roman Empire” or “That one time I asked the workers of the world to unite” (best said in a high-pitched American accent). The great thing about this project is its longevity – if this was a one-off photo it wouldn’t be anywhere near as hilarious.

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    Olivia Bee is fantastic. We’ve been following her in a non-stalker way for a good few years now, and can report that we were in fact correct in predicting she was going to be big. What’s so great about having a look at her work after a bit of a gap is the realisation that even though she’s been doing a lot more commercial work, her Flickr is still a paean to the wild beauty of youth. Even better, before where her photographs depicted kids on the brink of puberty – clumsily exploring the world and exploring being grown ups – now her subjects (some of them we recognise from before) are now actually approaching adulthood. That includes Olivia too, and these new wild, fizzing photographs are total, unadulterated proof of that.

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    With the many branches of Stoptober currently encompassing the social media feeds of our nearest and dearest, the notion of resistance is in full swing. For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is a lunar-based 30-day fast in which food and drink are consumed pre-daybreak and after sunset and other behaviour such as smoking, swearing, sex and many other sinful activities are forbidden.

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    Shame on those who thought we couldn’t make a brilliant mixtape out of songs relating entirely to books. From Turn The Page by The Streets to Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel, this mix is in honour of the fantastic book fairs that are currently going on in New York and London right now. So if you’re in New York or London get yourself down to the Art Book Fairs this weekend and pick up a little wad of paper that’s going to potentially change (or just momentarily enrich) your life. Oh, and listen to this book-themed mixtape and if you think we’ve forgotten any just leave them in the box below!

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    “Paradise is on the edge of an industrial estate just north of the M25. It’s also behind a Jobcentre in Manchester. By the bins.” What a difference a poetic opening line of a project caption can make! Oli Kellett sent this project in after the success of his 2011 project where he found street signs around the world that look like British words spelt wrong. Paradise is similarly genius: with the help of Martin McAllister Oli travelled the UK since 2010 photographing any road, street, lane or close that contained the word “paradise” in its title.

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    It may surprise you to find out that the It’s Nice That Bookshelf feature has been going strong since 8 January 2011. Yep, it’s old, and like a grumpy old uncle it’s rarely actually been celebrated. The weekly sneaky peek into the bookshelves of the creative and famous (sing to tune of Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous by Good Charlotte) is a long-term favourite of many an It’s Nice That reader, and we decided to do a few posts to celebrate some gems within it.

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    It’s all well and good making art and illustration that focuses in on humdrum observations of our meagre existences, but wouldn’t you rather have a whole bunch of images that dip their toes in the sci-fi pool of chance and dance through the stars on pronged, mythical wildflowers? I know I would, which is why I’m particularly pleased with stumbling across the work of Singeon, a French illustrator whose horny, mythological drawings and paintings are like an ever-changing ecosystem, ranging from small watercolour doodles of food (standard) to double-headed medieval babes in outer space (not so standard). He’s part of team Flickr, so if you like what you see here I urge you to go and check out even more of his work over here on his page.

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    We’ve been talking a lot recently about the gradual shift of the internet: websites becoming more advanced, successful blogs being abandoned left right and centre, artists adopting new ways of uploading and sharing music. What I’ve been curious about is the gradual change we’re going to witness in music videos. Gone are the hi-octane, fleshy, music videos that were rife a few years back, and it seems that increasingly bands are not as keen to peacock themselves around and taking a back seat is the cool thing to do. Maybe it’s also to do with the attention span thing that everyone goes on about, why would you want to watch a four-minute music video with a narrative that you won’t understand until you see the end when you can just watch a beautiful piece of ambient animation?

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    Photographer John Kilar was born in Istanbul, grew up in California and then settled in Los Angeles, for a bit. He now lives a nomadic life, traveling round with his point-and-shoot camera documenting the world as he sees it with an honesty and pathos and humour which strikes us to the very core. He also has a great way of talking about art and life which is inspiring without being patronising or cheesy; it’s just him doing what he does and calling it as he sees it. Particularly enamoured by his pictures of festivals, we tracked him down in Texas to ask him a few questions…

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    Spectacular promo film here from Reebok, inviting you to “give me your classics and I’ll show you the future.” As well as taking you swerving around northern A-roads in a BMW E28 M5 (dream car) stopping briefly on the way to pick up a blonde girl in the leafy suburbs (dream babe) this short film perfectly promotes the nostalgia associated with the Reebok Classics.

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    The work of Brian Edward Miller is a cross between the digital and the retro: his sketches could easily be found in the satchel of a 1950s art student, but when put into the computer and twiddled with they look just as at home in a high-tech animation for a company like Adobe. “My goal is to provide quality illustration and storytelling with the professional hard working ideals my family modelled to me and to chase down that elusive vintage aesthetic which played such a powerful role in my childhood,” Brian states on his site. Judging by the list of people who have commissioned this guy of late, it seems like we’re not the only ones to find his work impossible to look away from.

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    Normally we have to scrabble about, beg, or leave hampers on doorsteps of famous photographers in order to interview them. By some divine miracle, Creative Director at Sony Music and absolutely legendary music photographer Josh Cheuse came knocking on our door. Would we mind posting about his work in the lead-up to his solo show in New York? Certainly not. Could we ask him some questions about his spectacular firework of a life hopping across the pond and back again to photograph some of the world’s most famous musicians? Sure.

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    A brief serving suggestion before you lean back and scroll through this spectacular new work from Josh Reim: put on the Twin Peaks theme tune and sniff some tennis balls. The last time we featured Josh’s work it was to rave about his extraordinarily unique look book for his Autumn/Winter 14 collection which he had shot with the help of his best pal and collaborator, Jetro Emilcar. In his third collection the 18-tear-old ex-skateboarder and designer from Montreal has channelled the cold, dark vibe of the leisure activities of the wealthy.

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    It’s time to play Spot the Creative here in this fantastic video from Rotterdam design studio From Form. I was going to say that it was an animation, but that’s the beauty of this film – it’s totally not. By using clever, olde worlde-style fairground aesthetics they’ve conjured up a mechanical set with which to promote the annual Reasons to Create conference.

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    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

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    I think we can all agree that in the past few years food photography has pretty much reigned the internet as far as image-porn blogging is concerned. And yes, photographing tangerines on bright blue backgrounds does always look nice, we get it. But among the thousands of people documenting food in order to gain online notoriety there are some photographers who are known in the industry as the ones who can really, really shoot food.

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    Not much makes us as happy as a brilliant studio churning out spectacular work, but to find out each member is a fantastic designer in their own right is even better. Diogo Potes just got in touch to show us some of his personal work away from his day-to-day collaborative venture, Portuguese design studio Alva Alva. Diogo’s solo work boasts all of the vibrancy, sense of humour and love of hand-drawn elements that Alva Alva has, but also contains a good dollop of personal style. For me, I think his work is strongest when he incorporates photography into his designs – something about choosing off-the-wall shots and enveloping them in rich colours and bold typography is very, very pleasing. Nice work Diogo, keep it up!

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    Creativity can come in all shapes and sizes, and yeah we’ve posted a lot of great stuff this week. A project or painting someone has been working on for years can change your life entirely, as can one photograph or spectacular piece of design. Sometimes, though, it can just be the opening credits of an old cartoon remade with real animals. Thank you then to Disney and their blog Oh My Disney for creating and sharing something so intricate and bonkers it’s blown all art ever made out of the water. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the DuckTales Theme Song With Real Ducks.

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    Howdy! The new issue of Printed Pages magazine is out, and we’re happy to announce that deep within its wondrous pages lies an in-depth article studying the impact of Americana on art and design. To celebrate the launch of the mag we thought we’d dedicate this week’s mix to Americana, and the seemingly infinite pot of inspiration that artists and musicians have been delving into through time that is the United States. Read along with your own copy of Printed Pages you can get from over here.

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    Double dose of good news here for fans of magic wand-fingered artist Patrick Kyle. He’s got a new publication out! It’s called Distance Mover and it looks incredible. “It’s a science fiction comic that follows the exploits of a character called Mr Earth and his flying machine the Distance Mover, a vehicle capable of moving great distances at fantastic speeds!” Patrick told us.

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    HELLO and welcome to another episode of Studio Audience. This week Rob, Liv, Maisie and James are chewing the fat about the world of art and design and content. What are you waiting for dum-dums? As ever you can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Some may think it’s easy to shoot Kate Moss. People have been doing it for years, but to my knowledge no one has ever done it poorly. Today we can say for sure that a major element of shooting Kate with real oomph is having a sheer passion for the model – as Alister Mackie explains in this interview. The creative director describes her energy as “buzzing” and speaks warmly of their time spent in her back garden as she lay in the grass for this AnOther Magazine cover shoot with the tone of someone who’s just coming down from a transcendental experience. What’s really great here is how someone like Alister, whose career is already packed full of things we proles can only dream of, can speak of a fashion shoot with such pure, palpable excitement.

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    I have ALWAYS wanted to know the ins-and-outs of the whole beans and farts thing, and there is no one else on this earth I’d rather have explain it to me than Rami Niemi. This animation commissioned by Men’s Health and animated by Vancouver creative studio Giant Ant is the perfect blend of funny, well-executed and actually informative. A lot of the words popping up such as “oligosaccharides” or “pepsin” took me winging straight back to double biology, followed by the joyous realisation that I am now a grown up and I have the option to turn off or walk away whenever I get bored – wahey! Saying that, this animation is so well made it doesn’t even reach boring – if only all scientific matters could be explained in a one-minute-long animation by your favourite illustrator.

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    Considering New York band Parquet Courts recently announced in an interview that they were staying away from social media and the web because it wasn’t “punk,” it comes as something of a surprise that lo-fi punk master Ty Segall has just released a music video with an accompanying interactive website. I guess this is what happens when you make brilliant, unique music – artists start queuing up to interpret it for you, be it through artwork, remixes or websites.

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    In light of New York Fashion Week’s main event, a star-studded play put on by Opening Ceremony entitled 100% Lost Cotton, the It’s Nice That team began to ponder their own individual dream play, and what that would look like if they were given the chance to direct it. The results are pretty weird to be honest, but you can’t deny the appeal of each and every one in its own way.

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    Here it is, the third issue (or volume) of KENZINE, the spectacular publication sporadically released by the fashion brand that never fails to be utterly garish and desirable at once. This time the magazine has been taken over by the TOILETPAPER lads, Maurizio Cattelan, Pierpaolo Ferrari and Micol Talso. KENZO have been known for producing some of the most colourful, zany stuff out there in the fashion world of late – so to collaborate with their publishing counterparts seems to be something of a match made in heaven. Want one of your own? Good luck, “KENZINE Vol.3 will be available from 27th September 2014 exclusively in KENZO stores worldwide and from March 2015 in other selected retail stores.” We asked the KENZO press guys for a copy and were told no way, so if you see one – grab it! For now, the pictures below will have to do.

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    Due to their consistent brilliance we tend to drop everything when we hear of a new Metronomy video. Well, today it’s happened again, this time for their new single Month of Sundays. The video was directed by filmmaker Callum Cooper and was shot on a cloudy London day in the Barbican and other famous Brutalist residential buildings in London. Using a clever spinning technique not dissimilar to the skipping rope GoPros of old, Callum followed and shot the band as they strolled around and posed among various dark stairways and openings. Taking one of the UK’s favourite bands and buildings and combining them together to create a simple and utterly compelling music video makes for some of the best watching we’ve had in ages, even if it does make us feel a bit seasick at times. You can read more about it in this interview with him and the band over on Nowness.

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    We love Jack Hudson. Sometimes I find myself staring at his drawings open-mouthed like a magic eye image – the level of minuscule is like in a Wes Anderson film, every time you go back to an image you’ll find something you didn’t notice before. The clever bunch over at Computer Arts decided to commission London-based Jack to make their magazine look sweet, and so he did. We caught up with him to find out how on earth you go about designing a magazine cover, and to find out the back-stories of the teeny characters featured within it. First one to spot Mr Bingo wins a Kit-Kat!

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    Simon Penochet is responsible for making one of the sexiest adverts for a chocolate factory ever! In fact, we featured his career-making short back in June this year. We wanted to know more about the director, and what better way to get a good idea of his influence than by asking him to pick his favourite music video? Well, there probably are better ways to be honest, but this will do for now. Also anyone who picks a film made by CANADA must be on to a winner. Take it away Simon!

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    Just when you thought the only time you’d get to see some fruit getting jiggy with each other was the last time you ate a Moam bar, here’s Amelie von Wulffen’s paintings. Amelie’s work is a refreshing, sometimes sinister, sometimes sexual series of water-colour paintings depicting a strange mixture of food and tools interacting with each other as if they were humans – eating ice cream and going to music concerts and the like. As well as reducing mankind down to what it really is – a bunch of ridiculous creatures bumbling around the earth – Amelie’s real success here is bringing dark comedy into the largely unfunny art world, and for that she should be praised.

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    When drinking warm cider in a park starts to get boring it’s good to know that autumn is there waiting like a trusty friend in a really great jumper just around the corner. Did you know that the season is as treacherous as it is beautiful? More people step in dog poo in autumn than in any other months. Fact. It lurks beneath kickable piles of leaves. On the plus side it is well-known for its magic feeling of refreshment – a certain back-to-school vibe that makes new projects and friendships seem exciting and energised.

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    Welcome! Welcome to the podcast we make weekly for your enjoyment. Yep, we put our blood sweat and tears into sitting around and chewing the fat so that you can just listen to us while you sit on the train and be totally “in the know” about all things art and design. We don’t just talk about art and design actually, we sometimes cover British folklore or, more commonly, how James used to be a goth.

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    For me the commissioning, content and tone of The Gentlewoman are absolutely unparalleled in the magazine industry, and it gives me nothing but sheer joy to open a copy and have it satisfyingly flop on to the table to devour. Here at It’s Nice That we look forward to seeing the new cover and the choice of woman featured on it more than any other publication. The new cover of the bi-annual must-have magazine is out, and this time the star is Swedish electronic music artist, Robyn.

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    Redesigns are so often chewed up and spat out in the design world, so when one comes along that simultaneously blows the socks off each and every one of your colleagues upon seeing it, you know it’s going to be worth digging a little deeper. When that redesign is an online space it becomes so much more intriguing than a print publication doing the same thing; the web is like a constantly surging ocean and to move with the tide can be treacherous.

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    This week Editor Liv Siddall addresses the world’s distraught reaction to the announcement that MSN Messenger will terminate after 15 years in operation, and wonders if we should get so nostalgic and wet-eyed over technology.

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    Cosmic brilliance here from Jesse Fillingham, whose fantastical work is sending shivers all over me this morning. His confident line images seem to draw inspiration from teen sci-fi novels, video games, Shakespeare and the work of Roger Dean, bringing it all together to form a heady combination of past and future. Jesse graduated back in 2010 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and has since been exhibiting his work across American and Europe to what I can only imagine are die-hard fans. If you find yourself lost in the bizarre nature of his Kate Bush digital image or the transient surreality of Cosmic Contemplation 2, take your eyeballs for a gander at his simple line drawings. Extract / Sunset / Pointer is insanely well-drawn and I can’t stop looking at it. One for the “favourites” folder I think.

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    WARNING do not watch this if you are afraid of family members dying and then being messily devoured in front of your very eyes by OTHER members of your own family. Seriously, parts of this video were deemed unwatchable by most of the It’s Nice That editorial team, which I think is perhaps why I love it so much.

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    An old soul such as myself appreciates when modern-day designers and illustrators go out of their way to make something look like it fell out of a cardboard box that hasn’t been opened since 1972. When I first came across SEEN I was convinced it was a whole group of people, but it turns out it’s just one really talented guy called Rob Carmichael. He alone is responsible for creating some of the best album artwork around at the moment.